Arizona has more cacti than any other state! Of course, there is more to Arizona flora than cacti. However, what a wonderful distinction to have. The iconic Saguaro is native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, the Mexican state of Sonora, and a small area of California. The Saguaro blossom is the State Wildflower of Arizona.
Our arid climate has led to wonderful adaptive plants that flourish here. Cacti quickly store the scant rainfall in their thick stems for the drought i
YFperiods. Most cacti have fleshy stems that expand and shrink according to the water stored inside. The stems are green, so cacti photosynthesize even though their leaves have adapted to become spines. The spines protect the waxy flesh from predators such as birds, ground squirrels and rabbits. Desert birds nevertheless build their nests in cacti such as the Cholla and the Saguaro.
Here is a selection of additional cacti that you may encounter on an Arizona trip.
Botanical gardens are worth a visit if you want to see Arizona’s many cacti species. Here are some of my personal favorites: In the Phoenix area: Desert Botanical Garden, Boyce Thompson Arboretum In the Tucson area: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum,